Good Intentions

After more than two years, I finally have this shawl off of the needles.

It doesn’t look like much, but there’s 9 central yarns in this shawl-one for each of the levels in Dante’s vision of the Inferno. Each of those yarns are mine, either hand-spun, hand-dyed, or both. The edging is a commercial yarn but it’s the only commercial yarn in that project.

It’s such a chaotic mess, and I love it because it reminds me so much of Bosch’s paintings. It’s not quite the visual impact of Doyle, and it’s definitely smaller but it also hasn’t been washed or blocked yet either so what size it ends up being will ultimately depend on blocking.

It feels so weird to have such a peaceful end to this project. It just sort of…stopped. I cast off last night while reading a library book and sat looking at it. After two years of work, I’m not sure what I was expecting but it seemed sort of…anti-climatic.

The pattern is a variation off of Stephen West’s Boneyard. I like the look of a Boneyard but I didn’t follow that pattern, I guess I went for the same look, but I used the same basic shawl shape I always do for my freeform shawls.

I have an idea for another shawl for a gift but I think my next major project will be digging out and finishing that sweater I started last year.

The Guide and I into that hidden road
  Now entered, to return to the bright world;
  And without care of having any rest

We mounted up, he first and I the second,
  Till I beheld through a round aperture
  Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;

Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.
-Dante, The Inferno

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Good Intentions

I was watching this episode of the Twilight Zone while I was working on tearing out the first version of this project and casting on the new version.

The project in question should be identifiable to long time readers by the theme of that episode. If not, well…this shawl’s going to be hellish. Heh.

Dyeing Yarn With a Blank

Dyeing yarn with a blank is a way of getting interesting-and potentially self-striping-yarn with little work.

This project created a marled, semi-solid yarn for the Inferno project. This is yarn #9 (which, luckily, means I just need to finish spinning for Phoenix).

Dyeing yarn with a blank

1. Pick out your yarn. When dyeing for socks or other lightweight projects, a lot of people will buy or knit a machine-knit blank. For this project I did a deliberately rough spin of some off white pencil roving. There’s not a lot of it but I don’t need a lot of it either.

2. Knit (or purchase) a blank. This is a fairly small blank, much wider than long. The length and width of your blank will determine your patterning but I’m going for semisolid so I’m okay with whatever happens.


Try to knit fairly loose, at least several needle sizes larger than what you think your yarn needs-you’ll see why in the finished photos.

3. Soak your blank for at least 20 minutes.


4.Dye your yarn-I used a stovetop method instead of my normal crockpot dyeing. Since my parent’s area of the state is calling for snow today (cough) I didn’t get a chance to try solar dyeing like I was hoping for (I really liked the effects I got for Doyle).

I added way too much green, which is okay because Ridicule is pretty brown. Remember,  a little green will amp red. Too much green in a red bath will make…brown.

5. Let your blank dry and see what effects you’ve gotten. What’s cool with this blank is each side has different colors-one side is very red/brown, the other has patches of green/red.

back front

6. When completely dry, unravel your blank and see what effects you’ve gotten. If you want a nice, managable skein rewash, reset, and reskein…or you can be like me and just wind it onto a ply ball.


Because the blank was actually fairly tightly knit (the yarn was heavier than I thought), there are consistent white spots throughout the yarn. I would overdye it at this point, but I like the pattern so I’m going to let it be.


Solar Dyeing Wool

Solar Dyeing Results

Finished Dye Projects

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Inferno Status

If you’re a fairly new reader-and a number of you are, hello there! you may not be familiar with my habit of starting large scale, potentially multiyear multiskill projects. My last completed one was Doyle (read more about that here), the shawl I’m wearing in my profile pic on the sidebar.

Two summers ago I was struck with the idea of a ‘hellfire’ shawl- something based around Dante’s Inferno which has been a love for almost as long as I have been knitting. Each yarn has to have been processed by me in some form, either spun, dyed, or both. There are a couple of last minute changes to that with regards to dyed yarn-more on that after the picture.



3. This was originally going to be a yarn called pyschopomp that I never finished spinning. I need to get it off of my spindle, but I also know that since I’ve processed about 10 yarns since I started that one, psychopomp is something of a lost cause. This is the pink-est of the yarns in the bunch but it was overdyed with black cherry several years ago and there’s not enough yardage there for a stand alone project. We’ll call that one Folk Devil, because folk devil is one of my favorite sociological terms.

4. Ember

5. Wrath

6. Anomie

7. Phoenix

8. The Forgotten-what’s interesting about this one is that I know that I overdyed it for this project, but I forgot about it. I think that since it’s so much duskier/lighter/less intense than the others that it got put aside for sexier yarns. In the layout though it works okay. I may overdye it again.

Number 9 will be something I overdye from my stash. I have a yarn in mind already. I want to have this project on needles by February if I can at all help it. I have enough of Anomie spun up to knit right now, and that just leaves the second half of the singles from Phoenix.

The Orchard of Hanging Trees

The Orchard of Hanging Trees

Nicole Cushing

As heard on Pseudopod

What is it about hell imagery that appeals to people?

I imagine that I could spend a month doing nothing but analysizing that sentiment.

Either way, The Orchard of Hanging Trees, while being neither so serious or so political, is very much a member of the Inferno clan.

An unnamed male narrator wakes up in hell. He finds himself in an orchard of hanging trees- trees that bear fruit that slowly sufficates under its own weight, screaming and thrashing and cursing the entire time (like I said, very Dante).

He is told that the fruit will call him demon, the way that he calls his foreman demon. He is told to never interfere with the fruit. He is told to climb and prune one of the trees, where he meets the Serpent.

You know, The Serpent.

He feels that he may know this particular Serpent even if the snake swears he doesn’t know the narrator.

The punishment for saving the children, erm, the fruit, is to enter the darkness. The Serpent begins to tempt the narrator to enter the darkness with him. Turning away, the other farm workers tell him that he looks like he’s seen the devil himself.

There’s more of the story, of course, but where’s the fun in that?

6 months ago- prospero and juliana

Level 5- Wrath (Smoke and Ashes)

Level 1: Limbo-Sunset

Level 2: Lust-Ridicule

Level 3: Gluttony-psychopomp

Level 4:  Avarice-ember

Level 5: Wrath (Smoke and Ashes)

Level 6: Heresy

Level 7: Violence

Level 8: Fraud

Level 9: Treason

Achilles is a bit of an odd duck. While he is definitely one of the most visible, even the most visible, of the Trojan heros, he is also perhaps the most flawed. Consumed by anger, his actions during the war are often driven by that anger. He seems to be angry at life.

Achilles sort of blunders around, causing destruction wherever he goes. In some myths he wounds and then refuses to heal people. He is suggested to have killed lovers by…well…loving them too hard. There’s no way of wording that delicately, is there? In some versions of that myth, he just has the man decipated (on an altar to Apollo), which eventually led to his own death.

In the Iliad, his wrath leads to Achilles refusing to fight until the slights against him (namely, the theft of Chryseis and the death of Patroclus) are redressed. In a great many ways, Achilles’ anger is the defining feature of his involvement in the Trojan War, to the extent that it drove the gods to becoming involved with Achilles.

75 yards, 16 wpi prewash. 2 ply, mid weight top whorl spindle. 1 ply plain cream wool, 1 ply left overs from ridicule. Overdyed red orange.

(yes, thursday is normally tree day, but I can’t get to the photos at the moment. bear with me.)

6 months ago- Horrific Knit’s Infernal Play list, volume 3

1 year ago- a really really good movie…and a really bad one

level 4- ember (avarice)

Remember this project? Time to stir up the flames again.

Level 1: Limbo-Sunset

Level 2: Lust-Ridicule

Level 3: Gluttony-psychopomp

Level 4:  Avarice-ember

Level 5: Wrath

Level 6: Heresy

Level 7: Violence

Level 8: Fraud

Level 9: Treason

Avarice (noun)Extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

Thus we descended into the fourth chasm,
Gaining still farther on the dolesome shore
Which all the woe of the universe insacks.

Justice of God, ah! who heaps up so many
New toils and sufferings as I beheld?
And why doth our transgression waste us so?

As doth the billow there upon Charybdis,
That breaks itself on that which it encounters,
So here the folk must dance their roundelay.

Here saw I people, more than elsewhere, many,
On one side and the other, with great howls,
Rolling weights forward by main force of chest.

They clashed together, and then at that point
Each one turned backward, rolling retrograde,
Crying, “Why keepest?” and, “Why squanderest thou?”

-Dante, The Inferno, Canto VII

2 ounces, fractal spun merino. The roving was purchased at Rhinebeck.